The remote Welsh village with the ‘slowest broadband in the UK’


Broadband provider Openreach has been asked to bring faster broadband to a rural village in North Wales, where it can take up to 70 minutes to download a standard definition film.

Residents of the small village of Brithdir, near Dolgellau, said download speeds were as low as 1-3 megabits per second (Mbps), leaving them among the slowest in the UK, Live reporting from North Wales.

Although local network provider Openreach has promised to upgrade local broadband, it has currently suspended its rural fiber connection program, citing high demand.

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An Openreach van

Residents and businesses in the rural community of Meirionnydd have established a long-running community fiber app with Openreach, having secured the necessary funding to move the program forward.

They say the speeds provided by Openreach mean that downloading a movie in standard definition could take up to 70 minutes, and watching the same movie in high definition would take 17 hours with continuous buffering.

Brithdir resident Stuart Marsh said: “I had been chasing Community Fiber all through December but they were very quiet, I just didn’t hear anything from them. I had chased them on some things and I hadn’t heard anything before., they were quite informative.

“Finally, we received a message to say that all community fiber projects are on hold. We had obtained the necessary funding but were told just after Christmas that all projects were on hold.

“It’s not just our project. That’s all, but no reason was given. We’re just not given enough information. It’s been and gone with different projects since before the start of the Covid pandemic.

“We’ve been promised and promised different things. We’re getting so far. We’re getting to the point of almost being there and it comes to a screeching halt, and that’s the frustrating thing.”

Liz Saville Roberts

Residents called on Openreach to take urgent action to return to work and alerted Dwyfor Meirionydd MP Liz Saville Roberts to their plight.

She said the stance taken by Openreach had deepened the “digital divide” in Wales.

The MP for Plaid Cymru has called on Openreach to urgently resume its Fiber Community Partnership (FCP) program which has been suspended indefinitely due to an apparent surge in demand.

In response to correspondence from Ms. Saville Roberts, Openreach confirmed that all of its Fiber Community Partnership (FCP) programs are currently under review, with all existing applications suspended indefinitely.

Ms Saville Roberts said: “I am deeply concerned that Openreach has taken the decision to suspend all of its community fiber schemes, a decision which will understandably disappoint many communities such as the residents of Brithdir in my constituency who have been led to believe that their program was progressing.

“Having reached this point in the process and with the necessary funding in place, my constituents are rightly frustrated, as am I, with the sudden decision to suspend all existing community fiber programs, including those in the process of completion.”

She added: “I urge Openreach to provide my constituents and others in the same situation, immediate clarity as to the status of their community fiber application and a realistic and reliable timeline for the completion of works.

“People living in rural areas such as parts of Dwyfor Meirionnydd are already at a disproportionate disadvantage when it comes to accessing fast and reliable broadband.

“Delays in a specific program that aims to connect those who are not commercially or governmental eligible to fiber broadband only make matters worse, further deepening the digital divide between rural and urban areas.”

Openreach said it was working to build a “super-fast and super-reliable” fiber optic network across Wales.

But a spokesperson added: “Our partnership with the fiber community has been an incredibly popular program and due to high levels of demand, we have had to temporarily suspend new registrations while we work through existing applications.”

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